PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express® Card review | finder.com

PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express® Card review

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An exceptional travel rewards card with no annual fee and $100 in air travel credit.

finder.com’s rating: 4.4 / 5.0

★★★★★

30-second take

  • Get this card if you’re looking for travel rewards and air travel perks with no annual fee.
  • Pick something else if you want cashback rewards.
  • Apply with a good to excellent credit score of 670 or higher.
Product NamePenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express® Card
Card TypeAmerican Express
Annual Fee$0
APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for Purchases12.99% to 17.99% variable
Introductory Purchase APR

N/A

Balance Transfer APR12.99% to 17.99% variable
Introductory Balance Transfer APR 0% for the first 12 months (then 12.99% to 17.99% variable)
Balance Transfer Fee3%
Cash Advance Rate12.99% to 17.99% variable
Foreign Transaction FeeNone
Cash Advance Fee$5 or 5% of the cash advance amount, whichever is greater
Interest Free PeriodUp to 25 days
Late Payment Fee$25
Returned Payment Fee$25
Additional Cardholder Fee$0
Minimum Age18 years of age
Welcome OfferEarn 25,000 bonus points when you spend $2,500 in the first 90 days from account opening.
RewardsEarn 3x points on travel — or 4x points if you’re a PenFed Honors Advantage member — and 1.5x points on all other purchases
Base Rewards1.5x points

The basics

The PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express® Card is a rare gem among travel rewards cards. With this card, you get some of the premium travel rewards that high-end travel cards offer, such as a $100 Global Entry or $85 TSA PreCheck application credit and an annual $100 airline travel credit — all without an annual fee.

This card also earns you valuable points per dollar spent on all travel and everyday purchases, even more if you’re a PenFed Honors Advantage member.

And the great thing is that travel purchases include more than just airfare and accommodations. Commuter transportation, taxi, Uber, Lyft, bus lines and tolls all count toward travel purchases, helping you to earn even more points on everyday expenses. You can then redeem your points for flight tickets, gift cards and merchandise.

The perks

  • Welcome offer.

    Earn 25,000 bonus points — a value of around $250 — after you spend $2,500 on purchases in the first 90 days your account is open.

  • Annual air travel credit.

    Get $100 in air travel credit every year. Use it to cover baggage fees, lounge access, flight changes, pet-kennel fees, phone reservations and in-flight food and beverage purchases.

  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit.

    You’ll get an $85 TSA PreCheck or $100 Global Entry application credit every five years to help you clear airport security lines faster.

  • Earn points.

    Get 4x points if you’re a PenFed Honors Advantage Member — 3x points if you’re not — on all travel purchases. Get 1.5x points on all other purchases.

  • No annual fee.

    You get all these cool features without paying an annual fee. Similar cards, such as the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card, will cost you $95 a year.

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  • No foreign transaction fee.

    When you travel abroad, use your card freely without incurring any foreign transaction fees. Other cards charge fees of up to 3% for each transaction.

  • Travel insurance and roadside assistance.

    Get up to $100,000 in travel accident insurance and car rental insurance, as well as 24/7 roadside assistance in case of emergencies.

  • Intro APR period on balance transfers.

    Get a 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 12 months when you make the transfer before March 31, 2019. After that, a variable APR of 12.99% to 17.99% applies. Note that a 3% balance transfer fee applies.

How do I become PenFed Honors Advantage member?

To become a PenFed Honors Advantage member and earn more points on travel purchases, you need to either:

  • Open a checking account. Sign up for the PenFed Access America checking account.
  • Be part of a military family. Enjoy Honors Advantage benefits if you or a member of your family is active duty, reserve, honorably discharged or retired.

How much are PenFed points worth?

The value of PenFed points depends on what you’re redeeming them for. Here’s what they are worth according to the PenFed website as of August 2018:

  • One point redeemed for gift cards is worth 0.85 cents.
  • One point redeemed toward air tickets is worth 0.85 to 0.90 cents.
  • One point redeemed toward a hotel booking is worth up to 1.27 cents.

What to watch out for

  • No intro APR for purchases.

    The PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express® Card doesn’t have an intro APR period on purchases. You’ll start with a variable APR of 12.99% to 17.99%.

  • Airline ticket redemption fees.

    When you redeem your points for flights, you’ll pay a $15 fee for online booking or $25 if you book by phone.

  • Balance transfer limitations.

    The intro APR on balance transfers is valid only if you make your transfers by March 31, 2019. Also, for every balance transfer you make, you’ll pay a fee equal to 3% of the transaction. Be sure to note that you’ll need to pay interest on your account balance if you don’t pay it in full each month.

  • High fees and penalties for late payments.

    You’ll pay fees of up to $25 for late payments. If you don’t make the minimum payment within 60 days after its due date, you could be stuck with a penalty APR of 17.99% variable. To remove the penalty APR, you must make three consecutive on-time payments.

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Name Product Welcome Offer Rewards Annual Fee
50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
2x points on travel and dining. 1x points on all other purchases
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
3x points on dining and travel after earning your $300 travel credit. 1x points on all other purchases
$450
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
30,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months and a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase in the first 3 months
2x miles on Delta purchases and 1x miles on all other purchases
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
30,000 bonus miles after you use your new card to make $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months. Rates & Fees
75,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
7x points on direct purchases within the Hilton Honors portfolio. 5x points at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations. 3x points on all other purchases
$0
Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the card within your first 3 months of card membership. Rates & Fees
35,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months
3x points on airfare booked directly with airlines; 4x points at US restaurants; 4x points at US supermarkets on up to $25,000 per year in purchases (then 1x points)
$250
35,000 bonus Membership Rewards® Points when you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months Rates & Fees

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What should I know before I apply?

To apply for the PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express® Card, you must be:

  • At least 18 years old.
  • A US citizen or permanent resident of the US.
  • A member of the PenFed Credit Union.

Am I eligible for PenFed membership?

    You may join the Pentagon Federal Credit Union if you’re:

  • An active or retired member of the US military.
  • An employee or member of a PenFed-affiliated organization.
  • An employee of the US government.
  • A relative or housemate of someone who is eligible for membership.
  • Somebody living or working at an eligible location.

You can also qualify by joining Voices for America’s Troops or the National Military Family Association with a low one-time donation.

Information you’ll need

To complete the application, you’ll provide information that includes:

  • Your name and residential address.
  • Your Social Security number and date of birth.
  • Your email address and phone number.
  • Financial information like your annual income and income source.

What credit score do I need?

You can get the card with a credit score in the low 600s. However, it’s best to apply with a good to excellent credit score of 670 or higher to qualify for the lowest APR and a higher credit limit.

PenFed typically pulls your credit report from Equifax as part of its approval process.

What do customers say about the PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express® Card?

The Better Business Bureau rates Pentagon Federal Credit Union an A+. Customers on BBB’s site have left 21 reviews at the time of writing, resulting in a composite score of 3.81 out of 5 stars. Most user complaints cite long wait times on customer support numbers. Other than that, they consider this a solid travel rewards card.

How to apply for the PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express® Card?

  1. Go to the PenFed website.
  2. Select the PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express® Card from the list and click Apply Now.
  3. Complete the form with the required information.
  4. Review your application and submit it.

How long will it take to get my PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express® Card?

Because PenFed automates conditional credit card approval online, you may get a decision on your application within minutes. If there are issues with your application, it may take a few days to a few weeks to hear back.

On approval, your card should arrive by mail within 10 business days.

I got the card. Now what?

  • Download the PenFed mobile app. With the app, you can make manual payments, set up autopay, transfer balances and more.
  • Avoid interest. After the close of each billing cycle, you have a grace period of at least 25 days to pay your balance. If you do, you won’t pay interest on your purchases.
  • Enroll in Visa Purchase Alerts. Stay on top of spending and fraud with real-time notification by email or text after each transaction involving your card.
  • Get help. Contact PenFed customer service at 1-800-732-8268 or info@hq.penfed.org with questions.

Bottom line

The PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express® Card is an exceptional travel rewards card that lets you earn points for long-distance travel and everyday commuting by taxi, Uber, bus and more. And the best thing: It costs you nothing to own the card.

Your spending may not exactly align with what this card has to offer, however. Compare your credit card options to find out with different features or categories more relevant to your spending.

Frequently asked questions

Images: PenFed.org

Travel card ratings

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Kliment Dukovski

Kliment Dukovski is a writer who specializes in global financial markets and personal finance, with a focus on credit cards. His main goal is to deliver honest and accurate information to help you make the right financial decision. When he's not writing about finance-related subjects, he writes sci-fi stories.

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